On the road… (with apologies to Jacks Kerouac and Webb).
The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect me from the usual threat of law suits.
DFW. Thursday 2:15 p.m.
I’m working the waiting watch out of boredom. My name is Thirsty; I have no partner what with the dogs boarded at Club Canine in Denton.
There had been a storm. They say in this part of Texas it’s normal. They cancelled my flight anyway.
I should be half way to Portland by now. Niece. Graduation -- MSW-School of Social Work. Five years… she’ll be a Republican.
Instead I’m in line with all the other cancelled flight non- fliers.
Behind me are Ben and Jerry (not really, I just decided to call them that); Ben is an Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of New York and Jerry is his special friend, or “life partner” as Episcopals seem to prefer nowadays.
I ask if they’re baseball fans… “Mets,” Ben says. I discard the usual the jokes… it’s been a long time since 1969, why rub it in?
I’m nursing a stress headache from trying to remember everything I had to do before take off. Tires me out. I forget stuff.
I try my sure-fire “Episcopals… they’re the Catholics who flunked Latin, right?”
Jerry quips back… “Catholic Lite”, he says.
I like Jerry.
We walk a yard or two and kick our carry-on bags along; mine is tan military canvas; Ben and Jerry’s are non-descript…. not flamboyant, like you’d expect.
Ben has a brother in Houston…. Ben’s complaint is that everything he smokes in the bar-b-que tastes like “it was left behind in a burning building.”
“Is it always brisket? I ask.
“Yes,? How did you know?”
“I live here,” I said.
In an hour I learn a great deal about Ben… not much about Jerry; I assume he’s a stay-at-home priest aide or something.
Finally it’s our turn at the counter… the boys go to Houston and I have the 8:25 to Portland.
“Mozel Tov,” I say…. Ben gets it. Ben waves shyly.
I make my way to the first bar. “Tequillarealto”…. no doubt I can get a beer.
“Thirsty,” she asks, taking in my five-o-clock shadow.
It’s 5:43 p.m.
“Yes,” I said, “how’d you know?
Consuelo cards me. I smile and say thanks; It’s important that the public take an interest in law enforcement.
After two quick beers I pay the $28 tab and tell her not to declare her tips. It’s the only way a young working mom can make it in this crazy mixed-up world.
“Mozel tov, I say.
Consuelo says, “Que?”, she grabs the tip and backs away.
Back in the boarding area, it feels like I’m in one of those airplane disaster movies from the ‘70s.
I’m George Kennedy.
It’s 7:47 p.m.
Seated across from me are The College Co-Ed, an Army sergeant headed overseas or just getting back; Amy, the young secretary on her first trip with The Boss; there seem to be no blind people or guitar cases, and lastly…. Hector, a well-meaning but a very fat man who will have the seat next to me or will be unable to open the emergency hatch when we’re screaming to get out.
I should have driven…
… with the dogs.